Or, how I got my Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1969 edition)
In 1966, during my sophomore year at college, I was invited to participate in the work-study program. I was paired with the new sociology professor, Dr. Bullion-yes, like the cube. During our initial conversation, he pulled out the bottom drawer of his file cabinet, handed me a magazine, and asked “What do you think of these?” Gracing the cover were pictures of young women volleyball players, inside were more athletic women–all totally naked. A quick mental assessment made me think “This is probably a test.” I said, “Nice, while they look very healthy, I’m not interested.” I must have passed, as I went on to work for him for 3 years with no other offers to view naughty magazines.
In those days, on the Southwest Texas College campus, students mostly came from small, rural towns. The guys were studying agriculture, the women aspiring to become teachers. There were no blacks on campus. Dr. Bullion spent several years opening minds and hearts on the civil right issues in his classes. He held the first class on Black History and introduced us to African-American writers and poets. Bullion would stand on his desk and holler out Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois. Quite impressive. He instituted the first, and I think only, student exchange week with Prairie View A&M, which at that time was an all black college near Houston.
But for all that liberal attitude about race, he somehow missed the part about women’s rights. For graduation, he gave me a copy of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Even then, I thought something about that was wrong, wrong, wrong. Was he telling me ‘now you have a college degree, but you really need a husband?’ Am I supposed forget about a career and learn to cook so I can be the perfect little wife? I was incensed, but kept the book as a memento of Dr. Bullion and his insightful, action-filled teaching style.
So, as life if full irony, I eventually grew to rely on, and love my Fannie Farmer Cookbook (not necessarily just to cook for the men in my life). It was the only cookbook in my home, until I married a chef and his gazillion cookbooks. It’s cover has long been missing. Some of the pages are attached with paper clips, torn and stained with spots of ingredients past. It’s simple and easy with timeless recipes that never fail me.
Here is the recipe for banana nut bread that now my grandkids love to make.
Banana Nut Bread
Some like to add 2 tablespoons melted butter to the batter. (I do)
Mix in a bowl
3 ripe bananas, well mashed
2 eggs, beaten until light
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Add to the first mixture. Add 1/2 cup nut meats, coarsely chopped. Being Texan, we always add pecans.
Stir well. Put in a buttered 9×5 loaf pan.
Bake 1 hour at 350°
Enjoy every morsel.
As a young revolutionary in the Sixties, I noticed the exclusive emergence of male egos in leadership positions. Not only was hierarchical leadership disharmonious with our ideas to end the war and change the world, but the relegation of women to nurturing servant roles also conflicted with our efforts to gain equality for all. Black civil rights opened the door, traditional power conflicts opened our eyes. Cesar Chavez came along to extend the fight for rights to Latinos, Gloria Steinem and others came along to bring women to the fold. At the Gatehouse, a multi-denominational Christian coffeehouse here in San Antonio, women were coequal influences (on nights when Ruth was not in the house, we were Ruthless) and men and women made banana bread together. It had a crack in the top, but otherwise we did a pretty good job.
So he was all for blacks having equal rights but not women…but yet we get good banana bread out of it. Prime example of one of the many teachings I get from you. If someone is ignorant, mean, or illogical, make banana bread 🙂 Love you mom! I think we all could learn to make a little bread in light of the injustices surrounding us, especially these days.
Jack, I had no idea you read my blogs. Thanks for the lovely comment, you made my day..no, my week…no, my whole life.
Laura, I bought Fannie Farmer’s cookbook in 1974 when I moved into a coop dorm my sophmore year in college, so it represented something different for me. But the end result is the same; building confidence that we can gain a skill (in my case, rustling up dinner for 30 twice a month!), and nurture ourselves and those around us. I went looking for this recipe because it was so well-used, the page disappeared from my old paperback edition. Time to hit ABE books!
thanks for sharing, and almost contemporaneous memories!